WEEK 1 IN THE BOOKS!
Despite the storms, it has been a week of sunshine in FCCPS. Thank you to all of our employees, students, and their families for a wonderful back to school. The week was full of so many smiling faces, reconnections, and great activities to kick off the 2021-2022 school year! Take a moment to send a “thank you” to someone who made a difference in your week.
As FCCPS returns to school, we are working hard to ensure our mitigation efforts are strong. Mitigation efforts remain critical. COVID-19 Level of Community Transmission – Coronavirus
MASK UP: Everyone is required to wear masks indoors at all times. (ADA, Medical, Developmental Exemptions Only) Masks are not required when outside unless it is a crowded event. (Those who are unvaccinated are advised to mask whenever possible.) It is essential that everyone follow the consistent and correct use of masks. (CDC--Your Guide to Masks)
STAY HOME WHEN ILL: All students (with parental supervision) should monitor their health before coming to school using the FCCPS Student Self-Monitoring Health Screening. The School Health Aide will screen any student who is ill at school. We will send students with COVID-like symptoms home. Any unvaccinated siblings in an FCCPS school must go home as well. Students may not return to school without clearance from a health care provider OR a negative test result AND must be symptom-free for the last 24 hours. Families will receive a sick student notification form to share with their student’s healthcare provider. We appreciate the community’s support with this process as we work to keep our schools healthy, particularly during times of high transmission rates in our community.
GET VACCINATED: Anyone ages 12+ and older can schedule a vaccination appointment with the Fairfax Health Department as an FCCPS employee, student, and/or resident by visiting FCHD Vaccine Registration. (The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccination available for children 12-17.) Or visit Vaccine Finder to find a vaccine provider. (Those with immunodeficiency issues can receive the booster now, and others will be able to receive their 3rd booster 6-8 months after their 2nd dose. A process for that is coming soon!)
SOCIAL DISTANCING: Students should be socially distanced at least 3 feet whenever possible. Staff must be 6 feet apart as much as possible, especially when eating.
TEMPERATURE CHECKS: JTP is checking temperatures upon arrival. At MDES and OSES, staff will conduct screening temperature checks each morning based on a modified schedule. We will evaluate this monthly. MEHMS or MHS are not checking temperatures given the high vaccine rates for 12-18-year-olds in Falls Church City.
IMPROVED VENTILATION: FCCPS has increased airflow in each of our school buildings. You can find details regarding the updates and status of the ventilation system for each school on the FCCPS website.
“PAUSING,” QUARANTINES, AND CONTACT TRACING
If exposure from a COVID occurs, the school will implement strategies to reduce the risk to students and staff who may be impacted. The response is based on several factors for students. Those factors include:
vaccination status (vaccinated or unvaccinated);
being within 3 feet for 15 cumulative minutes or more (only for students, not staff);
whether the positive case and the exposed student were fully masked;
and symptoms (when they began if they are current).
The school division uses seating charts and other information to determine who will “pause,” and the Fairfax County Health Department determines who will quarantine. No one will be allowed to return to in-person learning until the contact tracing is complete. FCCPS will implement all public health actions as outlined by the Health Department based on the case. Each school also has a COVID Response Team to help support families as they navigate through pandemic-related issues.
Below are the general procedures that each school will follow should there be a positive case and an exposure situation. These procedures align with the requirements outlined by the FCHD School Containment Team, the VDH, and the CDC.
Students Who Test Positive:
If a student tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, please keep them home and isolated. Alert the school as soon as possible. FCCPS will notify the Fairfax County Health Department, and they will initiate a contact tracing investigation. Positive students must complete at least ten days of isolation, be cleared by the FCHD or a healthcare professional, and be symptom-free to return to school.
Vaccinated Students Who Are Exposed:
Any student verified as fully vaccinated will not have to “pause” or quarantine, as long as they are not experiencing symptoms. This includes students living in the same household. The FCHD will offer testing to the student. Parents/Guardians can complete the Voluntary Student Vaccination Verification Form and upload their student’s COVID vaccination card to prevent the need to pause. Completing this form ahead of time will eliminate the need to pause from in-person learning and expedite the contact tracing process.
Unvaccinated Students Who Are Exposed:
Unvaccinated students exposed and the situation meets the criteria for being a close contact (within 3-feet for 15-minutes and either party is unmasked) will be placed on a “pause” from in-person learning. Their name will be submitted to the FCHD for contact training. Any student who is identified as a close contact will need to quarantine for 14-days. Students must be cleared by the FCHD or a healthcare professional and be symptom-free to return to school. FCCPS will implement all public health actions as outlined by the FCHD resulting from a contact tracing investigation. For more details about the contact tracing process, please visit FCHD Contact Investigation Investigation Information.
Other COVID Scenarios That Occur Outside of School:
When someone in the household is ill, being tested for COVID, or has tested positive for COVID, please consult your health care provider to support your family. Any student verified as vaccinated can attend school provided they are not showing symptoms. Unvaccinated students should remain home and follow the advice/guidance provided by a healthcare professional and/or the health department. The number for the Fairfax County Health Department COVID Call Center is 703-267-3511.
Instructional Support for Students Who Are “Paused,” Isolated/Quarantined:
Any student in isolation because they are COVID positive, ‘paused,” or quarantined due to exposure will be provided with meaningful school assignments via Schoology, support from their teacher(s), and the ability to live stream into their classroom. Each school will coordinate support plans for their students who are unable to attend in person due to COVID-related issues. Please be aware that this is not the “concurrent” teaching model provided previously during remote instruction. This provides a bridge of instructional support during a temporary break from in-person instruction due to COVID-related issues. FCCPS is not offering full-time virtual learning to students.
FCCPS COVID By The Numbers:
Cumulative August 1:
# of Student Cases:
# of Staff Cases
# of Students in Quarantine
FCCPS Rate of Transmission
As we close out this week and depart for the Labor Day weekend and Rosh Hashanah holiday, please be safe as you enjoy celebrating the end of the summer. This includes wearing a mask and practicing social distancing if you should travel. Below is guidance that you may find helpful.
While there are no restrictions for travel within the US, please be sure to be aware of the COVID transmission rates where you are visiting. When a student returns from international travel, they will need to provide a copy of the negative test result they used to return to the US to the School Health Aide or Registrar, AND the student should not have any symptoms.
Families are advised to follow the VDH/CDC guidelines for travel, but this does not exclude the students from attending school unless they are ill or have a known exposure--provided they can share a negative test result as required to enter the US. (VDH Guidelines for Travelers – Coronavirus & CDC COVID-19 Travel Guidelines)
Self-Care & Mental Health
As we close out this week, please remember to take care of yourself. Back to School season can prove to be anxiety-provoking at times, so be sure to engage in some relaxation and self-care over the next few days. Please reach out to your student’s School Counselor, School Social Worker, or School Psychologist if your student needs support. Our FCCPS Mental Health Support webpage is packed with resources to provide support.
Happy Labor Day & Shana Tova
Superintendent of Schools
Falls Church City Public Schools